The large majority of migrants worldwide, about 740 million, move within their own countries rather than abroad. They move from one rural area to another or from rural to urban areas. People decide to migrate for many reasons. Often though, the prime motivation is to escape situations of distress caused by poverty, food insecurity, lack of jobs, increased competition for scarce land and water resources, and so on. In the coming decades, demographic forces, globalization and climate change are likely to increase migration pressures both within and across countries.
The consequences of migration pose challenges and opportunities for food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development. For instance, losses in human capital and agricultural labour may have negative impacts on crop production and food availability. On the other hand, people who migrate may be able to escape poor living conditions, reduce pressure on resources in the places they leave behind and add resources by sending remittances to family back home. Fostering rural-urban economic linkages; enhancing and diversifying rural employment opportunities, especially for women and youth; helping the poor to better manage risks through social protection; and leveraging remittances for investments in the rural sector can be effective strategies for improving livelihoods and alleviating distress-induced migration.
The role of FAO:
When properly managed, migration can have far-reaching potential for migrants as well as their communities, countries of origin and destination. FAO aims to harness these opportunities in the interest of rural poverty reduction and food security. In particular, FAO works to:
- Develop more evidence on the impact of labour migration and remittances on food security and rural livelihoods. FAO builds knowledge on migration drivers, patterns and impacts to inform policies that affect the lives of migrants, their communities and countries.
- Strengthen policy dialogue and coordination across key sectors and stakeholders. FAO works closely with governments and civil society, including producers’ organizations and migrant networks, to promote policy options that address the root causes of migration. It also supports the inclusion of migration issues into agriculture and rural development strategies.
- Contribute more systematically to international cooperation mechanisms such as the Global Migration Group (GMG). FAO engages with partners such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote migration for development.